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Weekly News Digest

October 31, 2019 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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'Fugitive Libraries' by Shannon Mattern

Shannon Mattern writes for Places Journal, “Public libraries may be a democratic commons, but they have often excluded Black voices and perspectives. Communities have responded by creating their own independent, itinerant libraries—spaces for learning together and building futures together.”

She continues with the following:

Librarians generally are aware of these problems (they tend to be a self-critical lot), and the field’s main institutions have launched programs to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion. Some people are even starting to question the core professional value of neutrality, which has too often been used to justify ‘disengagement from crises in urban communities.’ Libraries are embracing their role in creating sanctuary for the homeless, impoverished, and undocumented, and in providing safety from violence and oppression. And many librarians have aligned with activist movements. …

Such efforts to position the American library as a democratic (or even radical) space have to acknowledge the institution’s own deep history of racial inequity. And even as we celebrate the library as a public commons, we should recognize that not everyone participates in that space, or not in the same way. By choice or by necessity, many marginalized communities have established their own independent, itinerant, fugitive libraries, which respond to conditions of exclusion and oppression. Understanding the politics and practices of these fugitive libraries, and the conditions that have led to their emergence, would improve the discussions about “libraries of the future” that are happening in the halls of power and privilege. That doesn’t mean public libraries should fold outsider projects into mainstream practice, though. Shining light on marginalized populations and informal spaces carries ethical obligations, and visibility sometimes yields vulnerability. In the second half of this article, we’ll get to know some of these fugitive librarians. I’ve spoken with most of them personally so that they can tell their stories in their own words.

For more information, read the article.



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